Cultivating Connection: A Conceptual Model Identifying Facilitating and Inhibiting Factors across three levels of Community
Human Factors Psychology
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Mental and Social Health
Other Social and Behavioral Sciences
In a world that is more virtually connected than ever before, social connection is waning at an alarming rate. Extensive research has demonstrated the importance of individuals’ connection to others, and community, as central for holistic well-being. In this paper, I build a bridge between positive psychology and community psychology. I introduce a recipe for authentic human connection (AHC) and present a 3x3x3 conceptual model that explores how AHC shows up at three levels of community: micro-communities of dyads and families, meso-communities of workplaces and schools, and macro-communities of neighborhoods, cities, and countries. For each level of community, I identify facilitating factors for AHC. These include eye contact, listening, virtue, psychological safety, psychological capital, play, social capital, ritual, and sense of place. I also explore inhibiting factors for AHC such as unconscious bias, fear, social and cultural norms, power structures, competition, instability, inequality, mistrust, and physical environment. Drawing on the rich resource of positive psychology, I close my paper by presenting three strategies for individuals to cultivate authentic human connection across all levels of community.